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Harris and Ross have created a new two part healthy office series, offering advice helping you to reduce sick leave in your workplace by making small changes to your existing procedures. 

Although the vast majority of work that takes place in an office is sedentary, it does not stop office workers suffering pains, strains and poor health. The most common injuries and illnesses reported by office workers are:

• Back and shoulder pain
• Eyesight problems
• Stress and anxiety
• Viruses
• Headaches

Repetitive actions, close working conditions and stressful working environments are often reported to be the main causes of sick leave in office workers, but how do we work to prevent these issues from occurring?

How to prevent pains, strains and aches

Workspace ergonomics is the practise of creating a comfortable working area, and therefore helps prevent stress and injury occurring as a result of sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time. To help reduce musculoskeletal problems in the office, ensure each employee is subject to a desk check using the following three points. 

1. Chair height – hips should be as far back in the chair as possible, feet should be flat on the floor with knees equal height to hips, if this is not possible supply foot rests.

2. Keyboard distance – equipment should be in close proximity, position keyboard and mouse directly in front of the seated person. Their wrists should be in a straight and natural position, you may need to supply wrist rests to help achieve this.

3. Monitor distance – Screens should be approximately an arms length from the seated person. The screen should be slightly below eye level, ensuring the neck is in a relaxed and neutral position.

Improving immunity within the office environment

Viruses spread quickly through offices, as close working environments and air conditioning systems are a breeding ground for germs. Whilst this is difficult to fix, there are schemes that can be put into place to help boost the immune systems of your employees, and therefore better equip them to fight off common bugs and viruses.

1. Enforce the importance of hand washing - unclean hands are one of the most common ways by which germs spread, to help with this you could even try handing out hand sanitizing gel for employees to keep on their desks.

2. Introduce healthy eating and fitness schemes – these will help to educate staff on the importance of looking after themselves and their immune systems. Get in contact with a local gym and discover if they are able to provide workplace discounts, or begin after work exercise classes and team sports.

3. Encourage staff to stay away from the office when they are sick - this will help to stop the spread of illness through your workforce. If it is possible, allow employees to work from home when they are feeling under the weather, not only will this help them to recover quicker, but it will also stop the chances of the virus or bug spreading further.

Healthy staff who are free from pain are not only happier, but on the whole are also more productive. Putting into place measures that will look after the wellbeing of your employees will not only improve productivity but also the quality of work that is produced.

Ashleigh Harman writes for Harris and Ross a leading physiotherapy group based in the North West, their specialists work to help patients recover from injuries using the best methods in diagnostics, rehabilitation and conditioning.